Easy Steps for HIPAA Security
Understanding HIPAA security standards is essential to maintaining compliance in your practice. HIPAA regulation mandates that covered entities, such as physicians, insurance companies, and health care clearinghouses, implement a compliance program that addresses these security standards to protect patient health data.
When it comes to HIPAA security, there are three major components that you need to address within your practice in order to keep protected health information (PHI) secure. PHI includes sensitive patient health data such as names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and medical records.
Below, we discuss the basic elements of HIPAA security so you can understand how a total HIPAA compliance program can help protect your behavioral health practice from data breaches and fines.
Physical HIPAA security is important because it involves protecting your office or physical location. Any PHI that is stored in paper form must be sufficiently protected. That means that health records must be kept in a secure location such as a locked filing cabinet or locked room. Only authorized employees should be able to access these records as a part of the work they’ve been hired to do for you.
Additionally, physical security requirements extend to overall site access. Entrances and exits must be secured and locked to prevent break-ins and unlawful entries to the site.
Technological HIPAA security is essential to protecting electronic PHI (ePHI). All devices that can access, store, handle, or maintain ePHI must be inventoried regularly. These devices must be properly secured with high-security passwords, with added full-disc encryption for extra protection.
Additionally, networks must be protected from malware and cyber-attacks. Depending on the scope of your behavioral health practice, you may need to implement a firewall to safeguard patient information from unlawful access.
Administrative HIPAA security involves tracking and documenting your security polices and procedures. You must have written documentation of the steps you’ve taken to address security requirements. In the event that your behavioral health practice experiences a data breach or HIPAA fine, you must be able to present investigators with this documentation.
It’s essential to keep this information updated regularly to ensure that ongoing HIPAA security measures are being maintained.